Ohio Gadfly Daily

  1. As we teased yesterday, third grade reading scores are all over the news across the state today. We start our coverage in Toledo, where the pass rate stands at 76.4% of third graders as of the spring tests. So far, no students have been exempted, officials say, and the district is using the impending summer reading test as a redoubt against “summer slide” for many more third grade students than would perhaps be involved in structured summer learning in previous years.  (Toledo Blade)
     
  2. In Dayton, there’s a lot of summer opportunities for third graders who still need to pass, but the article mainly focuses on what happens if students don't pass even after all that work/additional test opportunities. (Dayton Daily News)
     
  3. The story from Youngstown is fairly introspective. “There’s also awareness on the part of the students,” said YCS’s executive director of teaching and learning. “They’ve really taken this on and made it their own.” But, she says, “…I won’t be happy until all of our kids pass to fourth grade.” Indeed. (Youngstown Vindicator)
     
  4. Finally, the PD has a whole series of articles from various suburban districts that are worth a look. The crux of the story in CMSD: predictability. As Patrick O’Donnell write: “Cleveland's results came back almost exactly as the district had predicted. The district had estimated in March that about 1,000 students would need extra help this summer to pass the test. The new OAA results show that 999 of
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  1. Fordham friend and NCTQ trustee Tom Lasley wrote a guest commentary on the effect of excessive teacher absences on students which appeared in the PD over the weekend. He even contributed to the online comments section. Nice. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  2. I assume that this number is a tip of the hat to the dear departed Casey Kasem: Top 40 Straight-A Fund project proposals advanced to the final stage of review. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  3. Governor Kasich signed the K-12 Education MBR bill into law yesterday. There was no drop-kicking of the dropout-recovery school funding as many had wished. (Gongwer Ohio)
     
  4. Some folks have been lamenting the sausage-like creation of the MBR bills, but not Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Two of three provisions he championed in the MBR – correcting language from the main budget bill a year ago – were included in the final bill. These restored much of the oversight over charter schools in Cleveland that he and his Transformation Alliance had won with passage of the Cleveland Plan back in 2012. The third? Well, we’ll see. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. The OSBA/BASA/OASBO triumvirate is pleased with changes to teacher evaluation  signed into law by Governor Kasich in HB 362. (Hudson Hub Times)
     
  6. So far, all we’ve heard about the newest State Board of Education appointee is that she will occupy the “rural seat”. Luckily, journalism still exists in
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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most awesome dudes on the planet right now, using his skills as a communicator to take science into primetime television. Tyson hopes to bring the general public from their small place on Earth into the wonder of the Cosmos again.

I was reminded of one aspect of Tyson’s personal journey last week; specifically, this excerpt from a profile of him which appeared in The New Yorker back in February:

Not long ago, Tyson’s elementary school, P.S. 81, invited him to give a commencement address; he declined. He recalls telling the administrators, “I am where I am not because of what happened in school but in spite of it, and that is probably not what you want me to say. Call me back, and I will address your teachers and give them a piece of my mind.”

Evidently, Tyson was discouraged from pursuing an interest in science, because he was an “undistinguished” grade-school student, among other impediments he describes. More than once, he was on the receiving end of active dissuasion from pursuing his passion for science. Such discouragement might stymie most students. Luckily, he was an extraordinary individual determined to succeed. Tyson would overcome the odds stacked against him, attending Harvard as an undergraduate and the University of Texas for postgraduate work in astrophysics. As he tells it, the efforts to divert him from his lofty goals continued all the way through his time in higher education.

A recent...

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  1. Awesome – but brief – interview with Fordham Board member David Ponitz. Focused on higher-ed issues, but interesting nonetheless.  (Dayton Daily News)
  2. Tiny little Lodi News excerpts Fordham’s Mike Petrilli among many brief quotes in its editorial on the Vergara decision. (Lodi News-Sentinel)
  3. Definitely some ruffled feathers in Toledo regarding the split of their Head Start grant. Oddly enough for a Blade story, that doesn’t seem to include the fact that the group splitting the funds with Toledo Public Schools is a for-profit company…from Pennsylvania. It still remains to be seen what the split means for TPS’ plans to take over the YMCA building in Downtown Toledo. (Toledo Blade)
  4. Speaking of for-profit companies in education in Ohio, three smaller districts in Northeast Ohio are banding together to create an alternative program to serve students in their districts at risk of dropping out, reaching as far down as middle school to help children not making it in the traditional school setting. Admirable, yes? But this program will be run by a for-profit company from Illinois charging approximately $4,900 per student per district. One assumes this will be state money paying for these seats, so how is this different from a charter school? Answer, it’s not. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  5. I’m going to go ahead and blame Katy
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  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis peers into the future of accountability in a world of expanding parental choice. (RedefineED)
     
  2. Speaking of parental choice, a very strange news conference took place at the Lucas County Democratic Party HQ yesterday, announcing nothing newsworthy except to reiterate the views of the Toledo teachers union and local Democrats (two different groups, mind you) that charter schools are a destructive evil that’s causing Toledoans (Toledoites? Toledopolitans?) to suffer. But not good charter schools. They're OK. Oh, and not non-profit good ones either. Mostly just the for-profit ones…that are bad. Luckily one Republican flack and OCQE’s Ron Adler were on hand to lend some balance. Still, nothing newsworthy in this story. At all. (Toledo Blade)
     
  3. The Enquirer parses out passing rates for sophomores in Ohio's public school on this year’s final ever administration of the Ohio Graduation Test. Statewide, around 70 percent passed all five sections. In the Cincy area, it was 73.6 percent. Conveniently, there’s a bottom-five list that includes Winton Woods at 53 percent, New Miami at 50.8 percent, and Mount Healthy at 39 percent. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  4. Of course, the Enquirer piece notes that the graduation testing landscape is a-changing in Ohio. As noted yesterday, those changes include a condition on private schools’ exemption from state testing. The Ohio Association of Independent Schools chats to the PD about that very thing today. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. That new graduation testing landscape was also on the mind of StateImpact’s Amy Hansen
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  1. We start in Cincinnati today with a guest commentary extolling the virtues of some very fine charter schools around Ohio...but mostly in Columbus. Weird. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
     
  2. The revolving door at the state Board of Education may be slowing down. Governor Kasich has already appointed a replacement for the member who resigned earlier this week. Interesting note here about this being the “rural seat”. That leaves only one more to fill, although that one’s been open longer. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  3. The largest of Ohio’s teachers unions is urging Kasich to "drop kick" a provision in the MBR that would provide more money to dropout-recovery charter schools. The story goes to some pains to explain that not all dropout-recovery charters are run by White Hat Management (perennial union whipping boy) and that not all are in the graduation-rate basement, but to quote the OFT president: “Why would we give funds to something that has already proven to be worse than effective?" Why indeed? (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. Speaking of teachers in Cleveland, the CMSD board met late into the night on Tuesday and one of its big agenda items was hearing final appeals for teachers identified for termination by their principals. The PD has been following this story all along, and we’ve been paying attention. From the initial 68 staffers identified, it came down to 12 teachers who appealed all the way to board. All 12 were terminated. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. So that “bus driver gambling
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  1. Fordham’s Chad Aldis was a guest on Good Mornings with Chris Oaks yesterday, talking Common Core in Ohio. (WFIN-AM, Findlay)
     
  2. Common Core is also on the mind of public radio reporter Bill Rice in Cleveland, whose interview subjects seem pretty sure that attempts to turn back the new standards in Ohio will fail. (IdeaStream, Cleveland)
     
  3. Editors in Akron opine against the sausage-making exercise that is the budget process in Ohio, more specifically, the recent mid-biennium budget review bill. (Akron Beacon Journal)
     
  4. I know I’m going to regret fudging my rule against clipping letters to the editor, but seriously, when the CEO of White Hat Management writes in to take the PD to task, it’s probably worth a read. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  5. Aw man. What did I tell you? Slippery slope. Here’s another letter to the editor of the PD from a high school student who doesn't like the Common Core. Her conclusion: “Even though the idea of the Common Core sounds great, the cost of implementation and limitation on classroom freedoms is not worth it.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  6. Back to “hard news” now: The PD parses out winners and losers in the teacher evaluation changes contained in the education MBR. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  7. Ten years ago, the Ohio Coalition for Open Government and dozens of media organizations across the state performed their own “audit” of public entities (counties, cities, utilities, school districts, etc.) in regard to ease
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  1. Editors in Columbus opine favorably on the education MBR, covering many of the same points that we have recently made. (Columbus Dispatch)
     
  2. One piece of the MBR legislation that very few folks are pleased about relates to a windfall for dropout recovery charter schools. Editors in Cleveland opine against that provision and urge Governor Kasich to use his line-item veto power to “drop-kick it” from the bill before signing. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  3. Fordham’s 2010 Needles in a Haystack report on high-achieving urban schools around Ohio is namechecked in today's PD story about Concept Schools coming under investigation by federal authorities for what is termed a “white-collar matter”. Concept runs a number of charter schools around the country, including Horizon Science Academy in Cleveland, featured in the first Needles report. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
     
  4. The State Board of Education is meeting in Columbus this week, but is still playing catchup in filling all its open seats. One new member was sworn in yesterday, but the resignation of another was accepted. There are still two unfilled seats. Check out coverage in the Columbus Dispatch and in Gongwer Ohio.
     
  5. How local is your local control if your superintendent and 10 of 13 administrators live outside the district? That question is being raised by a long-time Canton Schools board member in the wake of his resignation. (Canton Repository)
     
  6. We told you about the impending kick off of Columbus Mayor Michael
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Like many states, Ohio has lately undertaken a slew of ambitious but much-needed K–12 education reforms. In the Buckeye State, these include ratcheting up academic-content standards (e.g., Ohio’s New Learning Standards, which includes the Common Core State Standards for math and English language arts), bringing new assessments online, putting in place new accountability measures, and expanding and ensuring quality school choices for parents and students. Taken together, these changes are significantly changing the ecosystem of Ohio’s public schools.

The spring session of the Ohio General Assembly generated few significant new reforms. But lawmakers pulled off a mostly commendable nip-and-tuck job on those already adopted. They fine-tuned several big reform initiatives in ways that should help schools put them into practice. They also improved accountability for Ohio’s school-choice programs. The Mid-Biennium Review bills (House Bills 483 and 487) now await the signature of Governor Kasich. Here we discuss the most substantive policy issues (save for teacher evaluations, which are discussed in the following piece).

Pausing Accountability

The General Assembly reasserted Ohio’s commitment to the Common Core and to the PARCC assessments. But it prudently slowed things down a bit. To help schools adjust to these new and more-challenging expectations, the legislature provided a one-year “safe harbor” for districts and schools. For the 2014–15 school year, the first year that PARCC will be fully operational, the legislature exempts schools and districts from accountability sanctions such as automatic charter closure, state receivership (via the Academic Distress Commission), and...

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The Senate and House finally reached a compromise over changes to Ohio’s teacher-evaluation system (OTES), which, in its first year of statewide implementation, has drawn criticism from school leaders arising from what they say is its administrative burden. Some felt that, as a result of its classroom-observation mandates, principals may not have time to properly support any teacher, let alone those who struggle.

This journey began with a Senate bill passed back in December (Senate Bill 229), which continued with the House Education Committee proposing major changes—followed by weeks of debate on the competing versions. (A comparison of the two bills can be found here, and our analysis of the House bill is here.)

The compromise ended up in House Bill 362, which originally dealt with STEM-school matters. It now awaits Governor Kasich’s signature. Major changes include giving districts the option of changing the percentage of an evaluation tied to teacher performance and student growth from 50 percent to 42.5 percent each; providing districts with several different ways to make up the remaining 15 percent, including (but not limited to) student surveys; and allowing districts to be flexible with the observation frequency of top-rated teachers.

Everyone loves a happy ending. But as a former teacher, this bill leaves me with several lingering questions, as does OTES itself.

First, this has been the first year of OTES implementation for most Ohio districts. End-of-year test results won’t even be published until later this summer. So why were...

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